Are the crazy fast events just quantum biology in action?
By Allan Gardiner
Warning: technical jargon ahead
Switch back-to-normal event
PhotoMed’s anesthesiologist and neurologist advisors were puzzled by the crazy-fast responses and outcomes. They were not able to find explanations in texts. The patients that they wanted to help had “treatment-resistant” pain for which “nothing had worked”. The unexpected physiological responses to PhotoMed’s therapy could occur despite years of impaired sensory, motor, or skin temperature functions.
Studies to develop PhotoMed’s therapy invited real-world people for whom “nothing worked” to relieve their pain or improve impaired functions. Also invited, were people with disorders that had no conventional solution, such as unwanted movement associated with Huntington’s disease. See the disorder list.
Patterns emerged from examining real-time recordings of the unexpected events. However, it took 20 years to recognize that the volunteers had the answer all along. They had reported that they felt “normal” again.
That’s the story of the “back-to-normal” function event.
The real-time recordings illuminated important details of the events. At the moment when normal resumed, their whole body might flinch, or they might gasp in surprise. Disbelief frequently followed as they realized they could move fluidly or that their pain was gone. Of course, many didn’t respond. The Instant Verification System methodically collected their data, too.
Back-to-normal in a wider context
The “nothing worked” type of pain is what’s left after everyone else has taken their best shot. This is important because the pain that may be “managed” doesn’t appear to end with a return back to normal. Volunteers with multiple sources of pain could intermittently return for “managing” their pain that responded only temporarily to PhotoMed’s therapy.
Curiously, data suggests that “nothing worked” pain may be the most likely type to be relieved along with a return to normal function.
A few examples
Take a look at the video clips first to enjoy coming up with your own observations and questions.
Lois, at 78 years old, experienced pain in the base of her left thumb from using a grabber to pick up garbage on the high school running track where she walked. Her pain was repetitively relieved by PhotoMed’s non-invasive therapy. Well, almost.
“Not quite gone” was her typical report. During one of those visits, by chance, her mapping error presented itself. Let the camera’s roll. Enjoy. Please don’t laugh. (1:11)
How many of your patients might have a “not quite gone” layer of discomfort like Lois? You might check for this phenomenon in your patients with scars, injuries, loss of sensation, or post-surgical pain.
Would you be surprised? How about after your 10th case?
Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran describes this and other neurological disorders in his book, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human (1) The book provided examples that inspired the methods for concluding mirror-neuron mapping errors. Link to External Page on Synesthesia (2)
Based upon volunteers in PhotoMed’s study in Sacramento, CA, about 10% of people with post-surgical pain or CRPS may experience synesthesias. Recordings of several cases of mirror-neuron synesthesia suggest that cross-sensory mapping may be stable for years (one case was 75 years) yet resolve as an event.
Detecting and correcting your patient’s mirror-neuron synesthesia doesn’t require any tools other than your finger. Is it neuroplasticity or quantum biology? We don’t know.
Link to more details about Lois’s mirror-neuron synesthesia.
Sensation lost to diabetes
“George” progressively couldn’t feel his feet for the past 8 years. The numbness was thought to be an effect of 40+ years of diabetes.
George shuffled and watched his totally numb feet when he arrived for his first visit.
During his first visit, he vaguely felt sensations from heavy pressure applied to his left foot.
During his second visit, George was asked to NOT move or look at his feet. He complied.
Within minutes, his sensation returned to near-normal. However, he couldn’t correctly identify where he was being touched.
Watch the monofilament testing that was recorded at about 6 and 28 minutes after George’s first procedures during his second visit. (46 seconds)
Could George’s loss of sensation have a different cause than the suspected diabetes? Quantum biology?
Could that cause have a more ordinary explanation? Could the loss of sensation be a “learned non-awareness” of touch like holding your hand in cold water? Could the phenomenon be analogous to “learned non-use”?
Link to Restoration of Sensation Page with more of George’s story.
Link to External Page - Statistics (3) (4)
People with “locked-in” syndrome may be considered in a “vegetative” state because they have no output. That was Josephine’s early days. Josephine was fully awake and aware. Link to External Page on the syndrome (5)
Josephine experienced a massive stroke in her brain stem that left her in a “locked in” state. She could voluntarily only raise and lower her left eye. Up for yes. Down for no. When you visit her, please don’t ask “or” questions.
Josephine had been expected to die on the way to the hospital. This was 14-years later. Josephine says that she was lucky to have a loving family to take her home. She still enjoys her husband, Winston, after nearly 40 years of marriage, her daughters, and grandchildren. Josephine is quick to tell a joke if you’ve got a few extra minutes for her to spell each letter by signaling with her eye.
She enrolled in one of PhotoMed’s studies. We wondered, could a few visible photons awaken movement? Probably not. Everyone agreed.
It seemed useless to video fingers that hadn’t moved for more than a decade. Talk about a missed opportunity!
Within 5 minutes of therapy, her fingers moved a wee tiny bit. Josephine reported that she could see her fingers move under her command for the first time.
By 4 days later, Josephine fanned the spark of movement into a fire.
Watch how much that Josephine had accomplished. (21 seconds)
The recording show that her fingers were straighter than would have been expected. Flexion contracture typically leads a closed hand. Something unexpected was going on for 14 years.
Attempting to talk recruits other functions
Josephine’s efforts to make speech sounds appeared to recruit her diaphragm. The evidence was her increasingly hearty laugh. Perhaps most important, the time between suctioning her mouth and tracheostomy tube increased from 10 minutes to an hour or more.
Could her impaired fingers, wrist, and diaphragm functions be a form of “learned non-use” phenomenon? Josephine reported that it was easier to move her fingers and mouth while the therapy was on. Improvements were incremental once they restarted.
Elated by Josephine’s improved functions, our team learned a sad lesson. No one had asked Josephine to make sounds or talk during the 14 years. We asked her to try.
Abnormal skin-temperature regulation
The experience of coldness in hands or feet may continue for decades. Unexpectedly, a single exposure to the test therapy has been shown to prompt the return of comfort and skin temperature regulation. That leads to a few questions:
Could a stuck experience of coldness lead to hands becoming and remaining cold?
Where does the “thermostat” live in the brain? Bilateral warming suggests it resides before the left-right split in control signals.
We repeat this clip for your convenience. (0:11) This man’s hands began to warm after his first treatment during each of 3 visits. His hands remained comfortable most of the time for more than year.
See the thermoregulation page for additional examples abnormal skin temperatures that go back to normal.
Thermal imaging provides a non-contact means of monitoring the effects of blood circulation. You can observe the first response as the veins darken across the back of his hand. The early cooling (darker) effect results from cold blood being pushed away from his fingertips. His fingertips warm (appear lighter gray) later.
A Historical Connection
Edward Taub, PhD, coined the term “learned non-use” in 1972. He developed “constraint induced therapy” to help stroke affected parts to move again. Link to External Page about learned non-use rehabilitation using constraint-induced motion. (6)
Reading about his ideas inspired our working with Josephine.
We introduce the term “learned non-awareness” in his honor for people who can regain sensation like George.
Thanks Dr. Taub.
(1) Ramachandran, VS (2011). The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
(4) https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2018/03/20/dci18-0007 Economic Costs of Diabetes 2017
(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17039223 The learned nonuse phenomenon: implications for rehabilitation